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DUST by Patricia Cornwell

DUST

By Patricia Cornwell

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-399-15757-8
Publisher: Putnam

Kay Scarpetta is back, as world-weary and sharp-eyed as ever, in this latest Cornwell (The Bone Bed, 2012, etc.) outing, the 21st in the series.

Scarpetta has reason to be jaded: She’s just returned from Connecticut, where she conducted 27 autopsies, “most of them children, and when I pulled off my bloody scrubs and stepped into the shower I refused to think about what I’d just done.” Teamed with a much more excitable Cambridge cop, she’s scarcely back home in Boston when she’s called to examine a corpse that’s turned up “out in the mud at one end of the athletic fields, what’s called Briggs Field,” as Cornwell curiously puts it. And not just any corpse, of course: The victim was a computer whiz who just happened to be involved in a complex lawsuit involving heaps of money and, as it develops, some shadowy connections to the federal government. Scarpetta’s husband, an FBI profiler, plays a more significant role in the tale than in other Cornwell whodunits precisely due to that Washington connection, but it takes a good while for Scarpetta to piece the puzzle together, with a parade of potential bad guys to choose from, including a rich dude who you know, just know, has to be bad because he owns “a shaving set made of mammoth ivory.” The red herrings and MacGuffins are standard mystery fare, complicated by Cornwell’s deep appreciation for the work of medical examiners in even the relatively simple matter of distinguishing a murder from a suicide, to say nothing of deciding who did the foul deed. 

The takeaway? “People still suck.” Yes, they do, and they do very bad things to each other. Stay tuned.